Snap Squashes its Nascent AR Enterprise Division

Snap shuttered its ARES unit — that’s Augmented Reality for Enterprise Services — after launching it just a few months ago.

(Photo by Alexander Shatov on Unsplash)

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Snap’s augmented-reality-for-businesses operation appeared and disappeared about as quickly as one of its patented vanishing messages.

On Wednesday, the social media company shuttered its ARES unit — that’s Augmented Reality for Enterprise Services — after launching it just a few months ago. As per usual, the wannabe Big Tech firm remains firmly mid-tech.

God of Snore

Among Snap’s most popular features has been its AR filters — allowing users to digitally superimpose 3-D graphics or warp their faces in goofy funhouse mirror shapes. But naturally for a company desperate to be more than just a chat app for Zoomers, Snap sought to repurpose the technology in a realm more likely to make money. Or, at least, tap a revenue stream free from the ever-shifting whims of the digital ad market. So in March, Snap announced ARES to help retail clothing brands create virtual fitting rooms using the AR tech.

It’s only been about six months, but Snap has realized the world wasn’t exactly clamoring for ARES:

  • According to an internal memo from CEO Evan Spiegel seen by Bloomberg, Snap quickly realized that building ARES would mean investing more in web tools versus the mobile-forward development it was used to, which are “technically complex and less engaging for our customers.”
  • Worse, Spiegel wrote that the timing couldn’t have been worse: AI was stealing AR’s thunder, and generative AI tools made it “easier for companies of all sizes to create try-on experiences for their customers.”

Snap, Crackle, Flop: Ultimately, however, Snap is blaming its recent overall poor performance as its reason for shuttering ARES: “Our business performance has reduced our capacity to invest in this incremental opportunity,” Spiegel wrote. A year ago, Snap made similar cost-cutting moves when it canceled its original in-app shows and games, shuttered sister apps Zenly and Voisey, and halted future development of Pixy, the ill-fated flying selfie camera-drone. Snap should know better than anyone: You can add as many appearance-warping filters as you’d like, but, at the end of the day, you are who you are.